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Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

Cecil Stoughton White House Photographs / National Archives, via Wikimedia Commons

We get all tangled up in family dynamics on this edition “Sound Effect,” with stories of “Family Business.”

We begin in Marsh’s Free Museum in Long Beach, Washington, where Dave Marsh is the third generation to run this roadside attraction. His grandfather founded the store, which now contains taxidermy, vintage carny memorabilia, a (purportedly) real human tapeworm in a jar and, of course, Jake the Alligator Man.

Denmark is once again distinguishing itself in the race against food waste — this time, with a supermarket hawking items once destined for the trash bin.

Those items might include treats for a holiday that happened last week, a ripped box of cornflakes, plain white rice mislabeled as basmati, or anything nearing its expiration date. In other words, perfectly edible items that are nonetheless considered unfit for sale by the retailers and manufacturers who donate them.

Once every four years, people born on Feb. 29 actually get to celebrate their birthday. That's right, Monday is leap day, the extra day added every fourth year to help fix the problem that while our calendar year is 365 days, the solar year — the amount of time it takes the Earth to circle the sun — is 365.24219 days.

NPR asked to hear from you leap babies about how you usually celebrate, and here's what some of you said.

Joel Strack from Orlando, Fla.

ShenandoahNPS via Creative Commons / Flickr

"Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, the "Sound Effect" staff brings us stories of helping hands.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Seattle’s South Lake Union area is home to a notable retailer, but not the big online one you’re thinking about. This is a store called Shine, and it’s part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The interior of the store looks like a regular boutique: rich, dark brown wood paneling, with focused lights that make sweaters and scarves and books pop off the shelves. But the store specializes in items that are “oncology specific.”

Alex Wolfe

Homelessness is definitely on the minds of a lot of us in the Northwest right now and its seems like there is some real urgency in trying to find the best ways to help. One group of architecture students from Washington State University are taking it further than most. Their latest class project is to design a transitional house that would sit in somebody's backyard and provide shelter for a homeless person.

Katie Sewall

Did a parent often push, grab, slap or throw something at you? Did a person five years older than you touch you in a sexual way? 

Those are just two questions from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) quiz given to students at Seattle's alternative high school, the Interagency Academy. Students at "Last-Chance High" are traumatized, reporting an average of 7 adverse experiences in their background. 

Principal Kaaren Andrews says early childhood trauma is a public health crisis leading to bad health choices and early death. But it doesn't have to be that way.

When you edit a blog called "Goats and Soda," and you read a story about a goat locked in a car in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Oxford, Mass., and you learn that the goat turned on the hazard lights and wipers, pooped on the driver's seat and ... drank an old cup of soda, you have no choice.

You have to cover the story.

Wikipedia Commons

"Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, we are sharing stories of discoveries. 

First, a Seattle researcher describes what it feels like to discover four new planets. Then, Seattle writer Hoai Tran goes on a long-shot quest to find lost relatives, and is rather shocked to succeed.

Courtesy Hoai Tran

Hoai Tran lives in Seattle, and she lost a chunk of her history and her identity when her family fled Vietnam in the '70s.

But she was just a little kid back then, and she very quickly adapted to life as an American.

She finally returned to Vietnam in her late 30s.  But by then, the thing that she had lost was so remote, she wasn’t even sure where to start looking.

Wikipedia Commons/European Southern Observatory

What’s, like, the most stupendous thing you could discover? A new world.

Dr. Sarah Ballard is an astrophysicist, and she has discovered four new planets. We call these exoplanets. These are planets that orbit distant stars. And the way scientists find these planets — they’re too far away and too small to see through like a regular telescope — they use this satellite-based instrument to kind of look at different stars. And when they see the star dim just a tiny bit, there’s a good chance that it’s dimming because a planet is passing in front of it. It’s like a tiny eclipse.

Credit: Flickr/Cloudzilla

If you’ve ever woken up to a mystery — maybe some kind of strange object in your yard, or an act of overnight vandalism and you don’t know how it got there — well then this story is for you.

Meet a woman in Seattle who put up some cameras to keep an eye on her cats. And the cameras run day and night. In person, her neighborhood seems quiet, but as seen on TV, we discover it is not.

Wikipedia Commons/TheAlphaWolf

"Sound Effect" took a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit Pacific Spirit Park and caught up with Professor Susan Samard. She’s a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia.

And what we could see when we went out there, were trees.  A tree here, a tree there. But what we wanted to ask her about was what we couldn’t see — below the surface.

 

Mark Arehart / KPLU

During this time of year, it gets really grey and wet. And even though the first day of spring is over a month away, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in downtown Seattle offers a glimpse of sunnier days ahead.

If you close your eyes, the first thing that hits you is the smell. It’s almost like you’re standing on a back porch in the middle of a spring bloom. There’s even the sound of chirping birds.

Natasha Schwartz says she designed her exhibit to feel like home.

“I wanted to kind of step outside the box and bring it into a backyard,” she said.

Terry Farley remembers her first boyfriend: Steve Downey. The year was 1971. She was 14, he was 16.

"He was my first love, the first boy I ever kissed, the first boy I ever held hands with and he was hard to forget," Farley tells NPR's Rachel Martin in the Valentine's Day edition of For the Record.

miss_millions via creative commons / Flickr

  "Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, the "Sound Effect" staff brings us stories of being locked in.

Gabriel Spitzer

Biologist Nalini Nadkarni wanted to bring nature to the people furthest from it, and she found them in solitary confinement. Her solution, the Blue Room, has the potential to enact sweeping changes in a prison system known for violence, despair and astronomic rates of recidivism. 

The Open University / Flickr

What would it be like to be trapped in your own body? Locked-in syndrome is a condition where a patient is fully aware and conscious, but almost completely paralyzed. They can’t speak or communicate.  For many, it's a nightmare.

"This is worse than solitary confinement, because in solitary confinement you can at least move and exercise, move your body about. So, in some sense, it is like living hell," says neuroscientist Christof Koch.

Wikimedia Commons

 

In mid-December of 2006, a vicious wind storm hit Western Washington. Gale-force winds knocked out power, knocked down trees and knocked Charlene Strong onto a different life path.

When Strong arrived home she found her wife, Kate, trapped inside the basement of their home.  Water was rushing in, and as each moment passed, it seemed less and less likely that Kate would survive. 

KPLU's Community Advisory Committee will be meeting on Monday, February 29 from 2 - 3:30pm.

If you re interested in attending as a member of the listening community, please contact the general manager's office at 253-535-8732 for more information.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Though he's now a proud Washingtonian, KPLU's Ed Ronco is a Michigander by birth, and every year at this time, he goes looking for a particular Polish pastry traditionally sold in southeast Michigan on Fat Tuesday. 

Today is Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Or, if you’re from where I grew up, in metro Detroit, today is Pączki Day.

In a prison hidden in the woods of Berlin, N.H., a group of 20 players are ready to compete for a chess tournament. They will sit in a windowless room engaged in a battle of the mind every Wednesday for five weeks — and one will be crowned the best player.

There are no prizes or trophies, merely a paper certificate for the winner, but for the inmates in this relatively isolated facility, the championship is a big deal.

Kung Fu Panda slurps noodles. An ugly/cute "puppy-monkey-baby" toddles into a living room. Kevin Hart stalks his daughter and her date to an amusement park via helicopter. Just three moments that various brands paid $5 million per 30 seconds to parade in front of Super Bowl viewers Sunday night.

Victor Vardanyan, 14, isn't having any of it.

Ross Huggett via Creative Commons / Flickr

This week's episode of "Sound Effect" contains adult language that may not be suitable for all audiences.

  "Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, the Sound Effect staff brings us stories of going solo.

Take a look at this question: How do modern novels represent the characteristics of humanity?

If you were tasked with answering it, what would your first step be? Would you scribble down your thoughts — or would you Google it?

Terry Heick, a former English teacher in Kentucky, had a surprising revelation when his eighth- and ninth-grade students quickly turned to Google.

"What they would do is they would start Googling the question, 'How does a novel represent humanity?' " Heick says. "That was a real eye-opener to me."

Gabriel Spitzer sits down with KPLU’s General Manager Joey Cohn for an update on where KPLU stands with fundraising, but not before discovering that Joey's long broadcast career includes a stint as a "VJ" for a local MTV-wannabe TV station in Arizona. While that station is long-gone and probably little-mourned, Cohn and Spitzer talk about how KPLU is a unique asset to our community and is worth saving.

 

Erin Hennessey


"Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, Sound Effect is highlighting the exceptional contributions from the newsroom.

Handout photo

The blue-haired drag queen stood in the middle of the street in a sequined dress, a quilted rainbow affixed to her bosom. She was angry. So was the protester in front of her, a smaller man carrying a megaphone and a sign reading “REPENT.”

Just before the start of Seattle’s most recent Pride Parade downtown, a group of protestors came marching down Fourth Avenue, urging the crowd to rebuke homosexuality and profess a belief in Jesus Christ.

Iqbal Osman / Flickr

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran as part of our new show, “Sound Effect,” which airs on Saturdays at 10 a.m.

Before there was a birth control pill for women, there existed a pill for men. It showed a lot of promise — until whiskey ruined everything. 

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